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Digital Subscriptions > Gay Times > June 2017 > OLIVER AND ME


When author and photographer Bill Hayes moved to New York in 2009 it was the start of a love affair – not just with the city but also with the revered writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks. Here Bill tells us how that fateful move led him into the arms of an extraordinary man…

Losing my partner Steve, who I’d been with for 17 years, in 2006 was devastating. He died suddenly of a heart attack and it took me three years to get grounded again; to get my life back together enough to realise I needed to start over; to start fresh. I’d grown up in a small town in Washington state and had moved to San Francisco in the mid-80s, but I’d always wanted to live in New York City and I’d visited many times over the years. I loved it and decided ‘It’s now or never’, so in 2009 – at age 48 – I made the move.

New York itself was everything I hoped it would be. It’s much bigger than San Francisco and much more compressed, dense and alive. As an insomniac there’s no place more alive at night than New York City. Plus, it was a great adventure to start a new life in a city that had so much to explore.

My new book Insomniac City is as much about that as it is about my relationship with Oliver Sacks. In fact, I had a contract to write a book about New York and also one on the history of exercise, and I was working on the former when Oliver got sick and I put writing aside. After he passed away I re-read the journal he had urged me to start shortly after I’d moved to Manhattan. It was a journal that had started with just notes on scraps of paper but had grown to about 700 pages, and it was filled with stories not just about Oliver and me, but also stories about New York. I realised I could chronicle my relationship with him through these journal passages as well as stories about people I’d encountered.

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About Gay Times

Parry Glasspool plays one of the most famous gay characters currently on British TV. He's not just easy on the eye; his role as Harry in Hollyoaks has a far-reaching and positive impact on young men around the UK, giving them the strength to come out to their families. We undress Parry for a steamy cover shoot and dive into his career, his future ambitions and what it's like kissing Kieron Richardson over and over and over again. In what is one of the most alarming recent atrocities against the LGBT+ community, we run our own investigation into what exactly is happening on the ground in Chechnya, and what you can do to help. We also speak to a Russian journalist who goes some way in defending Putin. Don't miss this explosive interview. Speaking of which: with a snap general election looming, we hear from the LGBT+ politicians who want our vote. And for our readers around the globe, the results of the elections in the UK affect you, too. Keep a close eye. In 2014, Neil Laybourn stopped Jonny Benjamin from ending his life on Waterloo Bridge. With a growing number of lives being lost to mental health battles, Neil and Jonny ask why we aren't doing more about it. Banarama on their hits, their friendship and their future; the godfathers of synthpop, Erasure, take us on a journey through every album of their illustrious 32-year career; Dua Lipa on her hard-earned and well-deserved success; and an interview with the late, great John Hurt on the eve of the release of the one of the greatest gay films of all time, The Naked Civil Servant. What to do about a friend's reckless sexual behaviour; Lady Bunny sticks her hand it in our sweetie jar of random questions (don't worry, we threw it away straight after); X Factor's Ray Quinn is this month's Gay Times Fitty; Charlie King on how to get buns of steel; cosplay with Chris Jones; 5 myths about HIV superdrug PrEP; Bill Hayes on Oliver Sacks; plus style, travel, culture and more.